Blackford Capital portfolio company merges to create new entity

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A provider of interior design, procurement and project management services for the hospitality industry is merging with a similar company to create a new entity under the Blackford Capital umbrella.

Grand Rapids-based Blackford Capital, a private equity firm, said last week that Bloomingdale, Illinois-based Vertically Integrated Products (VIP) completed a transaction with the owners of Hudson, Massachusetts-based Boston Trade International (BTI) to merge the two companies.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The newly established nationwide entity, Boston Trade Interior Solutions, will be jointly owned by Blackford Capital and the management teams at VIP and BTI, including Pravin Patel and Sudhir Patel.

Leadership teams at both companies — including Greg Kadens, VIP CEO; Charles Tichelbaut, COO; and Jill Kowalski, vice president of project services — will lead the merged company, which will maintain its staff and operations and will have design showrooms in the Boston, Chicago and San Francisco areas.

BTI has grown its business through proprietary sourcing and relationships with manufacturers as the hospitality industry was looking for a more holistic procurement program and integrated design and delivery.

VIP followed a parallel path serving all major national hotel brands and independents with solutions including interior design; fixtures, furnishings and equipment (FF&E) sourcing programs; project management; and logistics for hotels.

“The combination of these two companies, both known for industry-leading quality and service, provides operators and hoteliers with best-in-class expertise and product sourcing, as well as cutting-edge design and value engineering that meets the needs of guests at all stages and lifestyles,” said Pravin Patel, CEO of BTI. “This increase in size allows us to offer more purchasing power and flexibility to our customers while continuing to ensure scale and capabilities at the cutting edge of the industry.”

With the completion of the transaction, Boston Trade Interior Solutions will offer turnkey solutions, including interior design, procurement, project management and logistics services across a national footprint. The company’s service opportunities in design and sourcing will provide a variety of custom solutions and services that promote post-COVID-19 health and safety measures.

“The past year has been a time of unprecedented challenges for the hotel and hospitality industry,” said Greg Kadens, CEO of VIP. “As the industry successfully moves into the next phase of recovery, we want to be the partner they look to for the best values, guest pleasing and creative interior design solutions and the most attentive service. Merging with BTI gives us the scale, technology and team to provide those mission-critical solutions that our clients will require to serve the needs of their guests.”

Martin Stein Courtesy Blackford Capital

Martin Stein, board chair for the newly formed Boston Trade Interior Solutions and founder and managing director of Blackford Capital, said the merger is “a bold investment in a compelling industry at a challenging time.”

“With this transaction, we have combined two of the top companies into an industry leader that is poised to offer even more value, more services and more capabilities to our customers,” he said. “We believe that the combination of Boston Trade and VIP will create a highly innovative company that is at the forefront of sourcing, design and service while being the most cost-competitive option available. We have the utmost confidence in our leadership team, in our industry partners, in our business model and the long-term viability and prospects of the hospitality FF&E industry.

“We expect to be sharing additional exciting news in the coming months as we have aggressive plans for the future.”

Dickinson Wright, Polsinelli PC, Honigman and King & Spaulding served as legal advisers on the transaction, and Midland State Bank and Assurance Mezzanine Fund provided financing. Rush Street Capital provided capital market advisory services, and Plante Moran provided deal structure and accounting services.

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